Caltech gradaute fellowships
August 19, 2016

New Challenge Honors Faculty and Supports Students at Caltech

At Caltech, the partnership between faculty members and graduate students is important and profound. Faculty mentors foster tenacity, curiosity, and creativity in their protégés, who in turn energize laboratories with new ideas. Together, they push science and technology forward.

To honor this important relationship, an anonymous benefactor has initiated a $1 million giving challenge to endow eight graduate fellowships that will commemorate the contributions of Caltech faculty advisors who have guided generations of students. This gift provides new opportunities for members of the Caltech community to honor their mentors and connect the excellence of the past with the promise of today’s and tomorrow’s graduate students.

“It is fitting that our professors—who play such an instrumental part in preparing graduate advisees for their important roles as scientists and leaders—will have fellowships named after them,” says Doug Rees, dean of graduate studies and Caltech’s Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson Professor of Chemistry. “I am deeply grateful that a member of the Caltech community has chosen to remember our faculty in this enduring and thoughtful way.”

The giving challenge, known as FARE (for Faculty Advisors Recognition Endowment), offers an incentive of up to $125,000 per fellowship, which can be coupled with additional funds from the Gordon and Betty Moore Graduate Fellowship Match. In this way, a donor or group of donors can fully fund an endowed fellowship when their collective contribution reaches $375,000 and matching funds are applied.

In consultation with the chairs of Caltech’s academic divisions, six of the eight challenges have been named and are eligible for support as this story goes to print.

Two additional faculty advisors will be selected at a later date.

The FARE challenge and the Moore Match are part of a larger effort to bolster graduate student aid at Caltech, which is one of the highest priorities of Break Through: The Caltech Campaign. The ambitious $2 billion fundraising initiative, publicly launched in April 2016, has generated 41 endowed fellowship funds to date.

“The FARE challenge is particularly affecting philanthropy, memorializing Caltech faculty members dedicated to mentoring students, and bringing us closer to our goal of endowing fellowships for every graduate student at the Institute,” says President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, holder of the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. “Momentum is gaining on this ambitious enterprise, which is key to allowing unfettered research to thrive at the Institute.”

To learn more about how you can use the FARE challenge to maximize your gift to support graduate students at Caltech, contact Meredith Robbins, director of development for Academic Divisions and Regions, at 626-395-6069.

“It is fitting that our professors—who play such an instrumental part in preparing graduate advisees for their important roles as scientists and leaders—will have fellowships named after them.”
- Doug Rees, dean of graduate studies and Caltech’s Roscoe Gilkey Dickinson Professor of Chemistry

Charles E. Barnes (1921–2015)

Whether the ultimate fate of a star is to become a black hole or another celestial object can be determined thanks to Barnes’ foundational investigations. He made fundamental contributions to nuclear astrophysics, from his work on the nuclear weak force—which plays a role in the fusion responsible for creating the heat from stars—to his exploration of nucleosynthesis, which is a process of forming new atomic nuclei from simpler ones in the cores of stars. Expanding the impact of his scientific achievements, Barnes mentored numerous scholars at Caltech. Among them was Arthur McDonald (PhD ’70), who received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering that neutrinos can change their identities as they travel through space.


Lance E. Davis (1928–2014)

Lance_Davis-OBT-NEWS-WEBUsing a unique confluence of economic theories and mathematical techniques to interpret historical data, Davis was a pioneer of cliometrics. Named for Clio, the Greek muse of history, this field uses modern theoretical approaches and quantitative methods to study economic systems of the past, such as the financial markets of the British Empire and the American whaling trade. In addition to providing new insight into how bygone industries actually functioned, Davis was an advisor to many students and a key player in the establishment of Caltech’s doctoral program in the social sciences.


R. David Middlebrook (1929–2010)

David_MiddlebrookMiddlebrook was an icon in the field of power electronics. His formulation of the Extra Element Theorem and its variations are widely used in circuit design and measurements, and he also wrote a pioneering textbook that helps engineers incorporate transistors into their circuit design. He founded the Caltech Power Electronics Group in 1970, which graduated 36 PhD students under his guidance and developed the field into an internationally recognized academic discipline. His skill in presenting complex material in a simple, effective, and entertaining style was recognized when the Caltech student body awarded him the Richard P. Feynman Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 1996.


Bruce Murray (1931–2013)

Bruce_Murray_Headshot_1991-NEWS-WEBWidely viewed as a founder of the field of planetary science, Murray applied his training in geology to the study of other celestial bodies, providing a new understanding of our universe. As director of JPL from 1976 to 1982, he oversaw the launching of Voyagers 1 and 2, which would go on to make historic flybys of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune before entering interstellar space. Murray is known for employing planetary imaging to capture public interest in space missions and for mobilizing support for deep space exploration by cofounding the Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Louis Friedman. In a television interview in 1989, Murray said he was most gratified by teaching and working with graduate students and conducting research.


Ray D. Owen (1915–2014)

Ray-OwenOwen was a pioneer in immunology and genetics research. His investigations on the immunological tolerance of non-identical twin cattle paved the way for immunosuppressive treatments and, ultimately, the successful transplantation of human organs. At Caltech, he chaired the committee that recommended the pass/fail grading system for freshmen and also spearheaded the effort to admit female undergraduates to the Institute. In 1981, he was honored by the Associated Students of the California Institute of Technology for his extraordinary commitment to mentoring young scientists. He received the American Association of Immunologists Excellence in Mentoring Award in 1999.


Paul H. Patterson (1943–2014)

Patterson, Paul_PR-93-128-6Focusing on the interplay of developmental biology and neuroscience, Patterson made the fundamental discovery that each cell’s identity is not genetically determined and absolute. His groundbreaking research pointed to interactions between the nervous and immune systems and suggested that environmental factors can influence the symptoms of conditions such as schizophrenia and autism. Patterson also was instrumental in establishing Caltech’s MD/PhD joint degree program, which allows graduate students to combine their Caltech research with preclinical and clinical work at USC and UCLA.